The low-lying south Queens communities of Old Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, and Broad Channel are vulnerable to tidal flooding today, and the conditions are only expected to worsen with projected sea level rise, according to the Department of City Planning, which presented current planning initiatives and priorities for Queens on Monday at a joint meeting of the Borough Board and Cabinet at Borough Hall.
However, particularly in Old Howard, DCP has indicated that it is possible to maintain a strong neighborhood “by supporting resilient retrofits and through investments in street-end infrastructure upgrades.”
Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel are far more challenging, DCP noted. A lack of infrastructure solutions presents obstacles to mitigating the impacts of sea level rise.
The unique built environment of Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel – narrow lots, and narrow, low-lying streets – pose challenges for resilient retrofitting and reconstruction. Existing R2, R3-1, and R3-2 Zoning Districts do not account for narrow lot frontage in the residential areas of these communities, DCP noted. Additionally, new, higher flood elevations present physical and economic challenges to the two commercial corridors: Cross Bay Boulevard and Coleman Square.
However, City Planning pointed out that there are opportunities to identify changes to zoning, both in residential areas and business corridors; to maintain neighborhood character, facilitate customer access to businesses, and enable resilient retrofits and building.